A new study finds more than half of Americans expect Election Day to be the most tense day of their lives, with younger people experiencing the most stress.
Whether it's the election or the ongoing pandemic, meditation apps are seeing a spike in usage as more Americans look for ways to cope. Doctors said the health benefits of a little quiet time are enormous.
Meditation app Headspace said its downloads are up about 20% since mid-March. The Calm app reports its daily downloads have doubled. Experts say meditation can introduce mindfulness.
Psychiatrist Dr. Seema Desai says it can help regulate emotions and counter the negative physiological effects of stress.
"It can have an effect on our immune system, our blood pressure, heart rate," she said.
Meditation can look like many different things - from a more formal seated practice, to mindfulness that is incorporated into daily activities, like household chores.
"So, for washing the dishes: What is the water temperature feel like right now? Can you smell the soap? Can you see all the bubbles or the dirt or grime? Can you actually pay attention to these things? Can you hear the sounds of the water or your hands or the sponge? And when we're doing that, it's often helping us stay centered, stay focused, and not get lost in the bigger picture of things that are going on,” Dr. Desai said.
That kind of focus brings calm, which Katie Richmond says benefits everyone.
For the 31-year-old, sitting in silence seemed like the worst thing ever for her anxiety. But since June, she's been meditating with an app every day for 10 minutes, and says it's changed her life.
"I've been able to sleep better, I feel like I'm able to handle the daily stressors better. They don't go away. They just don't seem to stay such an extreme focus," Richmond said. "Me being my best is going to make sure that I can give my best to everybody else.”
Experts say don't get discouraged, urging that meditation is like any exercise; stick with it and you'll see the benefits.
They say meditation is part of an overall strategy for healthy living, along with exercise, getting good sleep, eating a balanced diet, and having social and spiritual connections.